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How Does Yoga Affect Your Flexibility Science

Does Yoga Help With Lower Back Pain

Yes. Yoga does seem to help alleviate lower back pain, in both the short and long term. The evidence around this is some of the best yoga research we have. This meta-analysis of the evidence on yoga for back pain, from 2013, sums it up.

found strong evidence for short-term effectiveness and moderate evidence for long-term effectiveness of yoga for chronic low-back pain in the most important patient-centered outcomes. Given the low number of adverse events, yoga can be recommended as an additional therapy to patients who do not improve with education on self-care options.

That said, there are some caveats here, too. The leading researcher on this question, Karen Sherman, notes that it’s still not clear whether yoga is any better than any other form of exercise for back pain. “Its certainly a viable form of exercise, but is it better than other exercises ? Probably not,” she says. Some of the best research on lower back pain has only looked at one specific type of yoga viniyoga.

Researchers haven’t figured out why yoga helps with back pain. This Cochrane Review protocol offered a few guesses, suggesting that improved flexibility and muscle strength, as well as relaxation and body awareness, may help.

At Home Yoga Routines For Flexibility

Getting to a yoga studio before or after work and dedicating one hour of practice can be tough for some with busy schedules. That is why we created our Free Resource Library full of yoga printables.

You can also check out a few other posts designed for beginners and improving flexibility here:

Remember that consistency is more important than the duration of practice, and if you can dedicate 20 minutes of your day to your yoga practice, you will begin to feel your body change in no time.

Factors Affecting Flexibility And Joint Mobility

As a professional personal trainer or certified coach, its vital that you consider all factors affecting flexibility and joint mobility prior to .

Joint structure and connective tissue play a significant role in a muscles ability to lengthen and in joint range of motion. Factors that cannot be changed such as age and sex of the athlete should be considered when assessing and designing a flexibility program.

Other factors affecting flexibility and joint mobility that can be modified to improve flexibility include injury, tissue bulk, quality of movement, and activity level.

Yoga Benefits Heart Health

Regular yoga practice may reduce levels of stress and body-wide inflammation, contributing to healthier hearts. Several of the factors contributing to heart disease, including high blood pressure and excess weight, can also be addressed through yoga.Try it: Downward Dog PoseGet on all fours, then tuck your toes under and bring your sitting bones up, so that you make a triangle shape. Keep a slight bend in your knees, while lengthening your spine and tailbone.

Can I Use A Book Or Yoga Videos Instead Of Going To A Class

5 Factors That Affect Physical Fitness

It’s better to start with a class to learn the poses and breathing techniques correctly. With a video, there will be nobody to correct your mistakes, which may lead to injury over time.

With some experience of being in a class, a video can then be helpful for keeping up practice.

Page last reviewed: 3 August 2021 Next review due: 3 August 2024

Flexibility And Yoga Philosophy

On the one hand, of course, stretching is an important component of building the yoga-deha, the yogic body that allows the practitioner to channel ever more prana. Thats one reason why the major hatha yoga schools base their practice on the classic asanas, a series of postures that illustrate and encourage the ideal range of human movement.

But any good teacher will also tell you that yoga isnt just about stretching. Yoga is a discipline that teaches us new ways of experiencing the world, Judith Lasater, Ph.D. and physical therapist, explains, so that we can give up the attachments to our suffering. According to Lasater, there are only two asanas: conscious or unconscious. In other words, what distinguishes a particular position as an asana is our focus, not simply the outer conformation of the body.

Its certainly possible to get so caught up in pursuit of physical perfection that we lose sight of the goal of asana practicethe state of samadhi. At the same time, though, exploring the limits of the bodys flexibility can be a perfect vehicle for developing the one-pointed concentration needed for the inner limbs of classical yoga.

Cooley uses an amalgamation of what he sees as the best points of Eastern and Western knowledge, combining the classic yoga asana with techniques similar to PNF. .

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What Are The Health Benefits Of Yoga

Dozens of scientific trials of varying quality have been published on yoga.

While there’s scope for more rigorous studies on its health benefits, most studies suggest yoga is a safe and effective way to increase physical activity especially strength, flexibility and balance.

There’s some evidence that regular yoga practice may be beneficial for people with high blood pressure, heart disease, aches and pains including lower back pain depression and stress.

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Practicing Yoga For Flexibility

Because every body and each persons practice is different, there is no specific answer for how long it will take to gain flexibility through the practice of yoga. Also, each persons definition of flexibility may be a little different perhaps you have never practiced yoga and are looking to touch your toes. Or maybe you used to dance as a child and are looking to regain the ability to do a split. Although the timeline and flexibility goals for everyone are different, consistency in your yoga practice will result in having you feel your body physically open up more.

Practicing yoga will definitely help you to gain more flexibility in your body, and the time that it takes depends on your body, your current health, and the consistency of your practice. A consistent yoga practice takes time and dedication, so make sure that you dont get discouraged if you dont see results right away. Often, you will find that once you begin to immerse yourself in your yoga practice, you will start to see numerous other positive changes in your life and body and your yoga practice becomes less of reaching the destination of improving your flexibility, and more about the journey of your practice.

  • Yin yoga
  • Hatha yoga

A few things to remember when practicing:


Could Help Improve Breathing

Pranayama, or yogic breathing, is a practice in yoga that focuses on controlling the breath through breathing exercises and techniques.

Most types of yoga incorporate these breathing exercises, and several studies have found that practicing yoga could help improve breathing.

In one study, 287 college students took a 15-week class where they were taught various yoga poses and breathing exercises. At the end of the study, they had a significant increase in vital capacity .

Vital capacity is a measure of the maximum amount of air that can be expelled from the lungs. It is especially important for those with lung disease, heart problems and asthma.

Another study in 2009 found that practicing yogic breathing improved symptoms and lung function in patients with mild-to-moderate asthma (


Traditionally, migraines are treated with medications to relieve and manage symptoms.

However, increasing evidence shows that yoga could be a useful adjunct therapy to help reduce migraine frequency.

A 2007 study divided 72 patients with migraines into either a yoga therapy or self-care group for three months. Practicing yoga led to reductions in headache intensity, frequency and pain compared to the self-care group .

Another study treated 60 patients with migraines using conventional care with or without yoga. Doing yoga resulted in a greater decrease in headache frequency and intensity than conventional care alone .


Maintaining A Regular Yoga Practice Can Provide Physical And Mental Health Benefits

Learn about the different types of yoga and how it can be used as a tool to help you stay healthy.

Like yoga, the osteopathic approach to wellness focuses on your bodys natural tendency toward health and self-healing.

The purpose of yoga is to build strength, awareness and harmony in both the mind and body, explains Natalie Nevins, DO, a board-certified osteopathic family physician and certified Kundalini Yoga instructor in Hollywood, California.

While there are more than 100 different types, or schools, of yoga, most sessions typically include breathing exercises, meditation, and assuming postures that stretch and flex various muscle groups.

As an osteopathic physician, I focus a lot of my efforts on preventive medicine and practices, and in the bodys ability to heal itself, says Dr. Nevins. Yoga is a great tool for staying healthy because its based on similar principles.

Doctors of Osteopathic Medicine?, or DOs, focus on prevention by examining how your lifestyle and environment impact your health, rather than just treating your symptoms.

Calms The Nervous System

Yogas focus on breathing is the key to this benefit. Yoga directly influences your autonomic nervous system, which is your bodys master control system, says Swanson. By calming the nervous system, going into rest and digest more often, your body can function optimally and have a greater capacity to heal.


Benefits Of Yoga That Are Supported By Science

Why Flexibility Is Important to Your Health

Rachael Link, MS, RD

Derived from the Sanskrit word yuji, meaning yoke or union, yoga is an ancient practice that brings together mind and body .

It incorporates breathing exercises, meditation and poses designed to encourage relaxation and reduce stress.

Practicing yoga is said to come with many benefits for both mental and physical health, though not all of these benefits have been backed by science.

This article takes a look at 13 evidence-based benefits of yoga.

Yoga Can Help You Lose Weight

Generally, yoga does not burn the same amount of calories that cardio does. For example, here are the number of burned in one hour of the following exercises:

However, those extra 200 calories can add up. A 2013 found yoga programs often help people lose weight. The review found the effectiveness of yoga in helping people lose weight depended on how frequently one practiced, how long they practiced for, and if their yoga program incorporated a diet element amongst other metrics. 

Yoga Decreases Feelings Of Stress And Anxiety

Anxiety: If you have you know the tricky part is that you spend a lot of time worrying about things you cant control. Its a terrible feeling and its 100% unproductive! You cant change what you cant control right? A pillar of yoga that you can take off the mat to everyday life to majorly combat anxiety is staying present. No this is not just a thing hippies say. This is actually especially helpful for individuals with

The more present or in the moment you are the less time you have to worry about things you cant control.

Its not as simple as just telling yourself to stay present either despite what many people believe it doesnt actually work just like that when it comes to your brain. In yoga you are actually training your brain to get better at riding the wave when things are hard or stressful Picture this: When you have to breathe through that hard pose in your yoga class to get through without falling over and you learn to actually get good at breathing through that hard pose practice after practice week after week you begin to activate and strengthen the part of your brain that replaces anxiety or inability to cope with rational thought. You strengthen the neural pathways that your brain needs to stop your boat from rocking in the crazy ocean of life and have an easier time sailing through. Sail on matey! The fact that yoga can retrain your brain is pretty amazing.

Finding the time is worth it!

A New Paradigm Of Flexibility

Biomechanics-based Restorative Exercise teaches a lot of new and eye-opening information about stretching and flexibility that isnt yet common knowledge in the yoga world. Additionally, the wonderful yoga teacher Jules Mitchell is on a mission to educate the yoga community about the science of stretching. Her recently-completed masters thesis in exercise science is a comprehensive literature review of the most current scientific research on stretching to date, and its full of an abundance of important information for yogis.

Utilizing the innovative knowledge that these resources offer, lets examine some of our current beliefs about stretching and introduce some helpful ways we can begin to update these beliefs to reflect the newest scientific word on the street.


Yoga Is For Everybody

Anybody can do yoga, regardless of age, body size, gender, ethnicity, or fitness level. Social media may have perpetuated the image of yoga in America to be thin, bendy, young women flocking to studios and beaches to complete pretzel-like body contortions. But the true image of yoga goes beyond that.

“It pains me to think that people are intimidated to go to yoga based on what they see online,” says Jenay Rose, a 500-hour RYT, online fitness coach, and wellness influencer. “Yoga is for you, me, our sisters, brothers, nephews, grandparents. Yoga is for all. In fact, yoga means union.”

You do not have to be thin or fit into a particular aesthetic to practice yogayoga is and welcoming, and as Rose pointed out, it’s a practice for all. Just check out the rockin’ Instagram pages of yogis like Jessamyn Stanley and Amber Karnes, who prove yoga is accessible for anyone at any size in truly epic fashion. 

And you don’t have to fit within a certain age bracket, either. According to the 2016 Yoga in America survey, only 19% of American practitioners fell into the 1829 age bracket. The vast majority of practitioners over age 30 and 38% of them fell into the “50+” category. All agesfrom to older adultscan reap the benefits of yoga.

Is The Stretch Reflex The Key To Increasing Flexibility

According to physiologists who view the nervous system as the major obstacle to increased flexibility, the key to overcoming ones limitations lies in another built-in feature of our neurology: the stretch reflex. Scientists who study flexibility think that the small, progressive steps that allow us to go a little deeper during the course of one sessionand that dramatically improve our flexibility over a life of yoga practiceare in large part the result of retraining this reflex.

To get an understanding of the stretch reflex, picture yourself walking in a winter landscape. Suddenly you step on a patch of ice, and your feet start to splay apart. Immediately your muscles fire into action, tensing to draw your legs back together and regain control. What just happened in your nerves and muscles?

Every muscle fiber has a network of sensors called muscle spindles. They run perpendicular to the muscle fibers, sensing how far and fast the fibers are elongating. As muscle fibers extend, stress on these muscle spindles increases.

When this stress comes too fast, or goes too far, muscle spindles fire an urgent neurological SOS, activating a reflex loop that triggers an immediate, protective contraction.

Thats how the stretch reflex protects your muscles. And thats why most experts caution against bouncing while stretching. Bouncing in and out of a stretch causes the rapid stimulation of muscle spindles that triggers reflexive tightening, and can increase your chances of injury.

Yoga Improves Flexibility And Core Strength

Yoga is beneficial for various reasons. It helps improve flexibility, works your core muscles, and it allows you to perform cardio-centric exercises in a way which is not as obviously taxing as other forms of cardio training.

In addition to yoga poses that work your core, such as  and , you can target the abdominal muscles to give you a more toned and trim tummy by engaging the core in standing balance poses.

If you want to improve your strength, there isnt much that will develop upper body strength faster than a regular Ashtanga yoga practice, which consists of lots of planks, press ups and arm balances.

For anyone thinking Ashtanga might not be for them because they cant do press ups, you will be amazed at how accessible the classes are as a beginner, and with regular practice, you very quickly improve.

Yoga For Children And Adolescents

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends yoga as a safe and potentially effective therapy for children and adolescents coping with emotional, mental, physical, and behavioral health conditions. Yoga can help children learn to self-regulate, focus on the task at hand, and handle problems peacefully. Yoga may also improve balance, relieve tension, and increase strength when practiced regularly. Because some yoga poses are harder than others, the AAP cautions that even children who are flexible and in good shape should start slowly.

What Does the Research Show?

  • In a 2019 study, 5-year-old kindergartners doing yoga twice a week in school in place of standard physical education showed less inattention and hyperactivity and completed a task faster than 5-year-olds doing physical education or no exercise.
  • A 2016 review found that school-based yoga programs seem to help improve adolescentsâ health. 
  • A 2015 systematic review of 16 studies for yoga interventions addressing anxiety among children and adolescents concluded that nearly all studies included in the review indicated reduced anxiety following a yoga intervention. However, the reviewers noted that because of the wide variety of study populations, limitations in some study designs, and variable outcome measures, further research is needed to enhance the ability to generalize and apply yoga to reduce anxiety.

Why Stretching Is Important

Myofascial Self Massage Study: The Science of Flexibility

Stretching keeps the muscles flexible, strong, and healthy, and we need that flexibility to maintain a range of motion in the joints. Without it, the muscles shorten and become tight. Then, when you call on the muscles for activity, they are weak and unable to extend all the way. That puts you at risk for joint pain, strains, and muscle damage.

For example, sitting in a chair all day results in tight hamstrings in the back of the thigh. That can make it harder to extend your leg or straighten your knee all the way, which inhibits walking. Likewise, when tight muscles are suddenly called on for a strenuous activity that stretches them, such as playing tennis, they may become damaged from suddenly being stretched. Injured muscles may not be strong enough to support the joints, which can lead to joint injury.

Regular stretching keeps muscles long, lean, and flexible, and this means that exertion “won’t put too much force on the muscle itself,” says Nolan. Healthy muscles also help a person with balance problems to avoid falls.

Yoga For Pain Conditions

Yoga may help relieve low-back pain and neck pain, but it has not been shown to be helpful for some other painful conditions such as headache, arthritis, fibromyalgia, or carpal tunnel syndrome.

  • Fibromyalgia. Recent systematic reviews and randomized clinical trials provide encouraging evidence that some mind and body practices such as yoga may help relieve some fibromyalgia symptoms.
  • In 2017, the European League Against Rheumatism evaluated non-pharmacologic therapies, including complementary health approaches, and issued revised recommendations for the management of fibromyalgia. The strength of these recommendation is âbased on the balance between desirable and undesirable effects , confidence in the magnitude of effects, and resource use. A strong recommendation implies that, if presented with the evidence, all or almost all informed persons would make the recommendation for or against the therapy, while a weak recommendation would imply that most people would, although a substantial minority would not.â Based on the evaluation of acupuncture, meditative movement practices , and mindfulness-based stress reduction, the recommendation for each was weak for use of the therapy.
  • A 2015 Cochrane review of 61 trials involving 4,234 predominantly female participants with fibromyalgia concluded that the effectiveness of biofeedback, mindfulness, movement therapies , and relaxation techniques remains unclear as the quality of evidence was low or very low.

Risks And Side Effects

Many types of yoga are relatively mild and therefore safe for people when a well-trained instructor is guiding the practice.

It is to incur a serious injury when doing yoga. The most common injuries among people practicing yoga are and strains.

However, people may wish to consider a few risk factors before starting a yoga practice.

A person who is pregnant or has an ongoing medical condition, such as bone loss, , or , should consult a healthcare professional, if possible, before taking up yoga.

Some people may need to modify or avoid some yoga poses that could be risky given their specific condition.

Beginners should avoid advanced poses and difficult techniques, such as Headstand, Lotus Pose, and forceful breathing.

When managing a condition, people should not replace conventional medical care with yoga or postpone seeing a healthcare professional about pain or any other medical problem.

Factors That Affect Flexibility

Many people associate yoga with flexibility, with good reason dedicated yogis can often train their bodies to contort into positions that the average person finds insane! Flexibility is an often-overlooked part of fitness, but the truth is, its important to cultivate in yourself. Tight muscles can cause pain, stiffness, and even injury to the body, not to mention hold you back from achieving your yoga goals.

If youre reading this in dismay, thinking I cant even touch my toes! dont worry. At one point, neither could we! Weve written before about how to begin improving your flexibility, but in todays post, were going to dig into the science and physiology behind limberness. What are the internal factors affecting your flexibility? How much of it is biological, and how much can be trained? Having knowledge of the specific mechanisms that help you stretch can enable you to better visualize the inner workings of your body, release muscle tension, and enjoy a deeper, more optimal yoga practice.

Read on to find out more, and if youd like to sign up for yoga workshops in the Wilmington area, feel free to check out our yoga class schedule! We welcome yogis of all abilities and experience levels, and offer an exclusive 30 Days for $30 newcomers special. We hope to see you at the yoga studio soon!

Helps With Focus And Cognition

Yoga teaches you to focus on your form and breath, helping to improve attention and concentration. A 2015 research review found that yoga improves cognitive function, including focus and processing speed.

One of the ways that yoga works is by teaching people to slow down and pay closer attention to their bodies and minds, explains Laffoon. The combined effect is that people become much more in tune with themselves on all levels mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual.


When Should I Stretch

The best time to do flexibility exercises is when your muscles are already warm so they can stretch farther without tightness or pain. If youre doing only stretching exercises, warm up with a few minutes of easy walking first to warm up your muscles. If youre doing endurance or strength exercises, stretch after, not before.

Demystifying Detox: Can Yoga Really Cleanse The Liver

January is the month for detox myths, including yoga to ‘cleanse the liver’ and ‘rinse the spine’. Ouch!

If theres one word that seems ubiquitous every January, its “detox”. Anyone hoping to wash away the excesses of the holiday season will look for ways to be better and healthier, at least than they were the year before. The fact is, detoxing isnt a thing. It is well dressed pseudoscience. It is a single culprit responsible for this piece of bad physiology that persists. Who knows where the origins of this misnomer lay, but recently its been seen more and more in the ever-growing yoga industry. 

Madonnas triceps and Stings bedroom habits aside, yoga has been steadily increasing in popularity since the 1990s. A 2008 study in Yoga Journal reported the worth of the yoga industry to be $5.7bn, and today there are approximately 4,500 yoga-based businesses in the UK alone.

Type “yoga” and “detox” into any search engine and the claims youll find will be quite staggering. One yoga posture that seems to bear the brunt of being super magical and “detoxifying” is the spinal twist, performed in poses like Ardha Matsyendrasana . Some claims associated with this particular pose are reasonable, such as releasing muscles around the spine and lower back to ease pain or increase flexibility, for which there is some evidence.

The best detox advice I know is:



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